Accessible Web Pages and SEO

Prompt Web
Last updated: 2023. 01. 13.

An accessible website can be used by the largest audience possible.

An accessible website means that the website is structured and designed in such a way that all people, including people with temporary or permanent disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with it.

Level A and AA Web Accessibility Requirements 

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Who benefits from an accessible website?

A very wide range of users! Some examples:

  • For people using screen readers and other assistive technologies, text embedded in images is a barrier, because these programs obviously cannot read or convert such text to Braille or other formats,
  • for the visually impaired, too little contrast between text and background, or text that is too small or cannot be enlarged,
  • for colour-blind and colour-deficient people, the use of indistinguishable colours to indicate certain functions is a barrier to understanding the content of the website,
  • for the hearing impaired and deaf, content of videos without subtitles is inaccessible, 
  • people with physical disabilities cannot use a website if they cannot navigate using only the keyboard or if certain activities are time-locked, 
  • for people with cognitive and neurological impairments, barriers such as complex, difficult to understand or use or inconsistent navigation, long, complicated sentences, flashing elements,
  • people who have difficulty focusing on visual content (images, text) in noise, who will not be able to access the content if a sound is automatically triggered when they open it, more so if the audio cannot be stopped,
  • users with hand tremors or who cannot follow the movement of the cursor with their eyes will find it difficult or impossible to use websites that cannot be navigated with a keyboard, where functions cannot be operated without a mouse,
  • people with speech impairments cannot use applications that can only be controlled by voice.

If a website is accessible, it often helps non-disabled or temporarily restricted users to access content.

Accessible websites also help

  • older people with severe visual, hearing, mobility and fine motor impairments,
  • users who have reading or learning difficulties,
  • visitors browsing on different devices (e.g. mobile phones, smart TVs) in terms of screen sizes and input modes; 
  • those who have a temporary disability, such as a physical limitation due to a broken arm, temporary visual impairment due to lost glasses, or even those who have a broken mouse and can only navigate websites with a keyboard,
  • those using the website in a moving vehicle, in a noisy environment or in bright light, 
  • or for those who, for whatever reason, prefer to listen to rather than read the content of web pages and therefore convert text content into audio, i.e. read it out. This may be the case for someone who has reading difficulties or who likes to consume content while doing other activities.

Web accessibility standard and levels

There are three levels of web accessibility: A, AA and AAA. 

A is the basic or minimum level: a web page is considered accessible if it meets all the requirements of level A.

All the requirements of the three levels are described in the WCAG standard. Links to explanations, examples and typical errors are provided at each requirement in the freely available standard to help with interpretation. The document also provides guidance on how to technically implement the specific accessibility requirement on the web page. 

If a web page fully meets one of the 3 levels, a gold or blue logo can be added to it:

W3C WAI-A, WAI-AA, WAI-AAA WCAG 2.1 logók sárga és világoskék színben

Which web page can be declared accessible?

A web page can be considered accessible if it meets all the requirements at level A, AA or AAA, or has a version that meets the accessibility requirements at the desired level.

Only an entire web page can be declared accessible: a web page is accessible if all its elements from top to bottom on it are accessible. If only a part of it is accessible (e.g. the main content inside the page), that web page does not meet the accessibility requirements. But even a whole web page cannot be declared accessible if it is one page in a series of pages that are not accessible in their entirety (e.g. one of the pages in a booking process).

Is creating a separate, accessible version of a website a good solution?

While it is acceptable to have an accessible version of a website (if the alternative version is a perfect match for the default version in terms of content and functionality), it is easier to create an accessible design and build an accessible website from the start.

Many websites have an “accessible version” button that, when clicked, changes to a black background with yellow font, or a version that displays the content without images in larger font. Unfortunately, this is not enough to make a website accessible.

Accessibility and SEO

Generally speaking, what is good for accessibility is good for user experience, directly or indirectly for SEO, and technically, for performance. 

Accessible pages are easier to understand and process, not only by human visitors in general, but also by robots, making crawling and indexing more efficient. Well-written code increases efficiency and performance. 

Many accessibility requirements are also best practices in content optimization and technical optimization, that is, they are traditionally considered as ranking factors. The reason for this is that the more accessible a website is, the easier it is to use, the less effort required to use and interpret it, the more likely visitors are to spend more time on it and the less likely they are to return. 

In other words, accessibility can directly and indirectly help with ranking.

Web accessibility required by law

In the European Union, he Web Accessibility Directive has been in force since 22 December 2016. Since then, it has been a legal requirement that public sector organisations' websites and mobile apps must be accessible, which means that they must meet all the accessibility requirements at levels A and AA.